What follows next is a pro barista tip courtesy of Strategic Design Unit. If you want to gather people somewhere, make them stay there longer and boost their creativity - serve them really good, well brewed and freshly roasted coffee.
Last Saturday was the Ravintolapäivä ( "Restaurant Day" ) when anyone "can" set up a pop up restaurant, cafe or a bar just for that one great day. People reclaim the streets and fill them with cheerful chatter, buzz and food. There's a very diverse range of food available from North Korean pork buns to Lady Gaga cupcakes. The fact that this was the 5th Restaurant Day clearly show that there's demand for inexpensive, well-prepared and diverse street food. However, the day after the restaurants and cafes are gone. Cars are back, there's no food, and people have abandoned the streets again.
This phenomenon sparked the idea for last weekend's "Sitra Coffee Lab" if you like. Besides me serving espresso based drinks we had a hidden agenda. While the customers were waiting for the drinks we asked them to sketch what would they like to see, eat, drink, feel or listen to on the streets of Helsinki in everyday life.
As a tool for this we used iconic yellow Lippakioskis (in Finnish) (translates a "baseballcap kiosk", from the canopy) that are largely unused nowadays (many open for 3 months over summer, but only for basic fare, and remain unused at other times.) Designed in the 1930's and built during 1940's and 50's, there are now 19 kiosks standing around the city. Dan had made these blank A3's with a vector rendering of such a kiosk.
We ended up with almost 30 papers with some great ideas on them. Some people wanted to grow carrots and flowers on the roof of a kiosk, others to set up a summer lounge and use the kiosk as a DJ booth. There were a few especially noteworthy things. First, many of the papers had people socializing outside of kiosks. Could these kiosks act as community hubs for people to meet each others and socialize? The kiosks are dotted around the town mostly by the tram lines. These different districts have their own characteristics and atmosphere. How could Lippakioskis reflect those nuances of different parts of the city, just like they do in Käpylä and Kallio?
Besides the social aspect people would like to see more diverse offerings on the culinary side. Nowadays the kiosks serve, as mentioned ealier, just a basic fare - filter coffee, buns, soda and candy. Why nothing more interesting like espresso or home made doughnuts? Or why not organic local beer? What would you like to see, eat or drink in a Kioski?